19 Sep 2010

Eeeeeeeeyaaahhhh! or What’s Most Commonly Heard in Whistler

Posted by mercieb

The world would be a much better place if everyone took at least one long weekend in Whistler every year. It should just be a requirement of life. Whistler is an amazingly beautiful place with spectacular views around every corner. We, of course, went to mountain bike.

After a crazy mad dash to build a proper downhill bike in the 2 days I had between coming home from CA and leaving again, the Intense 951 come together in the 11th hour with help of almost everyone I know and a few I got to know along the way. There was a late night wheel build, many trips to the storage unit & local bike shops, and an early morning stop at Fanatik in Bellingham on the way over the border. It truly took a village to build this bike. I kept getting told it was a part of the experience… right. An experience I’m not eager to have again but I did learn a lot about these huge monster truck style bikes.

We finally got to Whistler mid-afternoon after Jayden at Fanatik valiantly put the finishing touches on my bike and even swapped out the spring on the shock to accommodate my lighter riding weight. In the parking lot there was much cursing, jumping up and down and general frustration as NG and I wrestled to get the Schwalbe Muddy Mary’s on our wheels. This is no easy task with 2.5′s, (someone needs to invent a tire lever that actually works). After a pinched tube and everyone taking their turn trying to get the bead out and then back in with a fresh tube,our tires were finally seated and ready to roll.

There SHE is... Fox 40, Muddy Mary's, SAINT, PRO. She ain't dainty but she sure is pretty

What followed was 3 days of pure bliss on bikes. Yes, we were riding lifts up but don’t knock it til you try it. What can I say?

DH’ing is maybe the best thing ever. Yes, that’s right folks, I said ever.

The first day I spent most of my time trying to get a feel for the weight of the bike. Not being so comfortable in the air, I was having a hard time not riding the thing like an XC rig. Also, the bike is so heavy it kept pushing me around and it didn’t take a whole lot to get myself into the weeds. Crank It Up was a great trail to find some flow. Nothing too scary but jumpy and bermed enough to work things through to find some balance over the bike.

AG made sure we got onto Ninja Cougar first thing… why? Well, last year I had a unfortunate incident on a wooden platform that resulted in me hitting a tree headfirst on Ninja. Or I should say, face first. The speed at which I met up with that tree resulted in crunching and cracking noises in my head that scared me first off the mountain and then completely off the bike for a while. Simply put, I’d never hit anything that hard before and while feeling lucky to be alive, I didn’t want to tempt my fate so my DH trip was cut short last year. I was at Whistler this year to make up for lost time.

Day 2 was more fun as I started to get a feel for how to handle my not-so-dainty rig but this time with some fog included. A long night of partying with the boys will definitely add a little fog to your life but no worries. After a few hours of following JW around the mountain (we did Crank it Up and A-Line a bunch), I headed off the mountain and back to the condo to sit in the sun. I was not so interested in killing myself this time around but it was super fun to spend the day watching JW’s progression into the air as he became more comfortable hitting everything on Crank it Up harder, faster, and bigger.

At some point early on the 3rd day, it was decided my seat post was still too tall. Hack saw procured, damage done and we were on our way. Boy, did that make all the difference in the world. Maybe it was the fact it was the 3rd day of riding, maybe it was that the boys were nice enough to let me tag along with them, maybe it was that we were doing full-mountain runs or maybe, just maybe, it was that damn seat post but I was finally getting in the air.

No, this is not me or any of my Compadres... but you get the idea.

A-line, Dirt Merchant, Blue Velvet, Freight Train… we rode them over and over again. Each run became a little faster until finally I was mostly not casing the transfers and hitting the jumps hard enough to grab some lines I had not been seeing before.

I love, love, love being in the air. It totally makes my hair stand on end. It’s crazy to think that 2 days before I could barely get the front wheel off the ground, let alone actually enjoy the huge step-ups or put a series of jumps together without using too much brake, or manage a drop that is denoted by 3 black arrows pointing down. It was all happening so fast and then we were done… 3 days of riding went by way too fast.

Tired and incredibly sore, Sunday eventually rolled around and NG was set to compete in the Red Bull 5000 Down, which is a Mega Avalanche style mass-start race from the very top of the mountain on the gnarliest trails available. 130 guys and gals trudged through 8 inches of snow at the top to bomb their way down as fast as possible without dying. NG did well. He didn’t die and the huge smile on his face told me he had a great time. I think he got 53rd. Kudos.

All in all, it was a really fantastic weekend. I’ve already started shopping for proper fitting armor, a new full face helmet and apparel that actually fits. As an added bonus, it tuns out we have all been dreaming about being in the air ever since we got home… Yep, next year I’m getting in my annual requirement and it’s going to be incredible.

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2 Responses to “Eeeeeeeeyaaahhhh! or What’s Most Commonly Heard in Whistler”

  1. Nice write up – yes, Whistler is a cool place – and I’ve never even ridden the downhill trails. Skied there a few times many years ago.

    I did mountain bike there once, maybe 7 years ago – just did the local XC stuff – which is also fun. If I had stayed there one more day, would have rented a downhill rig, or played downhill/freeride dude on my Ellsworth Truth if needed.

    Being old school XC Geek, I’ve poo poo’d the downhill scene a bit. Your description (and some others) gets me thinking the downhill deal appears to be pretty damn fun. Perhaps one day I’ll give it a go.

    If you’re still dreaming about air, don’t even try a dirt motorcycle – it’s like Whistler up and down the hill. As a kid in the late ’70s, early ’80s, I rode dirt bikes and raced some motocross. The sensations of that era are still burned into my feeable brain. Keep in mind, “air” in the late ’70s was nothing like “air” today. Still huge fun though.

    You’d think with that background, I’d be all over downhill scene – but no, XC Geek I am. A strange world we live in.

    In any case, awesome job writing up your downhill experience. Makes me ponder such things as long travel, body armor, tabletop jumps, and really fat tires.


    Dan O

  2. Dan, yes I can only imagine flying moto style… I’m sure I’d be hooked on that too. There’s just not enough time to try all the things that sound like fun. I’ve been addicted to being in the air since I started gymnastics at the ripe old age of 4. I still have dreams about being on the trampoline and not those backyard kind but the huge sort where you have the option to be strapped in with a belt attached to ropes and your coaches suspend you while you learn how to do full twisting double backs. Those are fond memories and still good dreams.

    Learning to fly on the bike has been another deal entirely. I highly recommend getting up to Whistler and investing in a guide for a few hours. There is much fun to be had.



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